Challenge to anti-crime laws seeks several declarations
Guyana Chronicle
November 20, 2002

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FORMER People’s National Congress (PNC) Member of Parliament (MP) Idris Deen is asking for several declarations in his challenge to the constitutionality of recently passed amendments to the Prevention of Crimes and Criminal Law (Offences) Acts.

In the writs filed last Friday by Senior Counsel Rex McKay and others, the businessman first charged that the failure of the National Assembly to establish, in the Prevention of Crimes (Amendment) Act 2002, an independent and impartial tribunal to give effect to the provisions of Articles 148 (4) and 151 of the Constitution, is inconsistent with the fundamental right of freedom of movement guaranteed by Article 148 and renders the legislation ultra vires and void, by reason of Article 8.

Secondly, Deen seeks to invalidate the new law on the ground that Sections 3A (1) to 3A (5) of it, which authorises the imposition of restrictions as to residence of any person without the establishment of an independent and impartial tribunal guaranteed under Article 151(1) and (3) of the Constitution, is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles139, 148 and 151.

The third declaration being sought is that Section 3A (2) of the amendment, which authorises the Commissioner of Police to apply ex parte to the High Court for permission to make an application to the Minister of Home Affairs to designate, as subject to Police supervision, any Guyanese and impose restrictions as to residence on the individual, without giving him an opportunity to be heard before a judge makes an order under the said sub-section and the Minister designates the person, is a breach of natural justice, ultra vires, null, void and of no legal effect.

Fourthly, Deen claims, though there are no words in the Act which require that the citizen designated by the Minister should be heard, the person is entitled to a hearing prior to an order being made by a judge or the Minister designates the citizen as subject to Police supervision.

With respect to the Criminal Law (Offences) (Amendment) Act 2002, Deen wants the Court to declare:

· that it is inconsistent with the fundamental rights provisions of the Constitution and is, therefore, ultra vires and void, by reason of Article 8;

· that Section 309A (1) (B) (i) of it is inconsistent with the fundamental right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment guaranteed under Article 141 of the Constitution, because it provides for the imposition of a mandatory death sentence in all cases where a terrorist act has resulted in the death of any person and

· that the effect of the same section is the imposition of the mandatory sentence of death where a terrorist act has resulted in the death of a person, in circumstances where the death was unintentional and would amount to the criminal offence of manslaughter under Section 94 of the Criminal Law Offences Act Chapter 8:01, for which the penalty is imprisonment.

The challenged laws were included in anti-crime legislation enacted by the National Assembly to bolster the efforts of the security force in fighting the current wave of criminal activities in the country.

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